How Lomography Is Bankrupting and Conning Hipsters From All Over The World

August 18, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Film photography is not quite ready to meet its demise yet.

Lomography, a form of analogue photography introduced in the nineties by the Lomographic Society in Austria, is a photography trend catching a lot of attention. Considered an art form of photography, this trend has seen international communities being built, galleries devoting entire exhibits to it, and a thriving equipment business.

Lomography is unique because it uses toy plastic cameras modeled after classic European compact cameras to take unpredictable pictures that are intentionally distorted to create effects and designs, such as blurring and color saturation. Lomography cameras come in several varieties, such as the LC-A (the original Lomo camera), the Holga, the Fisheye, the Diana series, and the Supersampler.

Supersampler Lomo Camera
The Supersampler Lomography Camera shoots 4 sequential panoramic images on one frame

Recently, the use of lomography has become quite popular even in weddings. The grittier, more personal feeling evoked by ‘lomographs’ have prompted many photographers to include lomography in their wedding photography services - adding a variety of lomo cameras to their arsenal.

Supersampler photo
Taken with the Supersampler

The lure of lomography lies in the fact that it’s generally deemed to be less demanding than photography. The lomography process follows 10 simple rules, which are: take your camera everywhere, use it at any time, shoot ‘from the hip’, approach your subject as closely as possible, don’t think, be fast,  don’t seek to know beforehand what you captured on film, or after, don’t worry about the rules, and lastly, consider it as part of your life. Thus, lomography has a large following composed of different types of people. Primarily, though, this trend is driven by the hipster generation. Hipsters represent the culture that rails against mainstream fads, such as digital photography, and the quirky, imperfect, and simplified nature of lomography draws this crowd in particular.

LC-A picture
Taken with the LC-A Lomography Camera

 

LC-A
The LC-A Lomo Camera

Is lomography really that down-to-earth, though? Here are some reasons why it might actually be conning hipsters.

1. The overpriced equipment. Lomography cameras and film are sold at prices far more than they are worth—about 10-20 times their actual cost. A normal Lomo LC-A+ camera can go for as much as $250, and a roll of lomography film can cost as much as $150. This makes lomography cameras and film more expensive than the regular kind. The Lomographic Society also maintains a monopoly on the lomography equipment market, which doesn’t give its hipster customers a lot of choice.

lomography film
Lomography film is just cheap, repackaged ordinary film sold more than twice the cost!

2. The variety of cameras with varying functions. In lomography, different camera models each achieve different looks, and there’s no ‘all-in-one’ option that allows customers to capture different effects using one camera. Thus, the serious lomographer is cajoled into buying several cameras in order to get the desired shots.

Fisheye Photo
Taken with a Fisheye Lomo Camera

3. The many camera 'editions'.  The Lomographic Society’s official website offers 206 varieties of lomography cameras, with the intention of allowing the customer to ‘find a lomography camera that fits [his/her] lifestyle and personality’. Many of these cameras serve similar functions and differ only in design, but come with different price tags. In order to capitalize on current trends, the Lomographic Society also releases ‘special edition’ cameras, such as the Diana Mini wedding camera and the La Sardina Coachella camera, which cost more than their ‘regular’ counterparts.

Holga
Holga Lomography Camera
Ripcurl Fisheye Lomo
Ripcurl Fisheye Lomo Camera - aren't they cute??!!

4. The establishment of lomography as a niche market. By marketing lomography equipment as one-of-a-kind and rare, the industry keeps its hipster audience in thrall—and gets them to spend a lot on this equipment because it’s not available everywhere. Lomography also utilizes the mindset of the hipster culture by convincing people to support it as an anti-mainstream trend.

 
La Sardina Coachella... looks vintage and rare... but it ain't!

5. The 'unpredictability' factor. One of the 'rules' of lomography is to take shots 'from the hip', or to snap pictures from unusual positions, and then just see what you’ve got after the film has been developed. However, this also means that there's a lot of pricey film wasted if those shots turn out badly since there is still such a thing as a ‘bad’ lomograph—despite the fact that lomography supposedly has no rules.

Diana F Photo
Taken with the Diana F

 Smart marketing has made lomography a lifestyle that hipsters need to stay in tune with. In order to take ‘good’ lomographs, a person needs to possess the 'right' equipment—just like normal photographers, in fact. Lomography is considered by many photographers to be a trend that ‘rips people off’ because it essentially convinces hipsters to pay a lot for 'purposefully' mediocre equipment in order to engage in amateur-ish art photography.

However... no matter how many eggs people throw at Lomography... Fact is, Lomography is plain cool!


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